Mon 08 Aug
Of the three network news operations, I’ve always found ABC’s to be the most serious and comprehensive: I’ll never forget watching former “World News Tonight” anchor Frank Reynolds during the confusion that immediately followed the failed attempt on President Reagan’s life in 1981. His mix of command and empathetic frustration was a model of adulthood for me; for a long time, well before the advent of cable and the sham of Fox News, I thought television anchors were men of honor, that they earned a level of respect on a nightly basis to which young people should aspire.
I felt that way about Reynolds’s successor, Peter Jennings, as well. He took over the nightly news duties in our household at about the time that I first started understanding that there was a world out there and that it worked in peculiar, foreign ways. My father and I would watch Jennings together every night, and as the anchor revealed the names of new countries and people to me, my father would explain their hidden back stories. I learned a lot from those evenings, both about what lay beyond our shores and what was so important about what lay within them. As a result, I always preferred Jennings’s urbane, worldly delivery over his rival broadcasters, by far. It didn’t bother me much when Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather left their posts earlier this year, but I felt heartbroken and despondent last night when I learned that Peter Jennings had died of lung cancer.